Simon Kuper - Writer

December 11, 2008

Food is crucial to happiness. I live in Paris, in large part for the food. As the owner of my local café says, the people who eat her croissants are mostly not fat, so I just pray the “French paradox” will work for me too.

Croissant: I know it’s bad for you but it makes me happy every morning at my local café.

Café crème: The Parisian term for cafe au lait; goes with the croissant.Foie gras: See under croissant: bad for me and bad for the duck, but there’s a reason the French love it.

Duck: Like foie gras, a southwestern French thing, which tells me that the southwest of France may be the best place in the world.

Avocado: I discovered this late: a rare treat that is actually good for you. I hope it compensates for all the other stuff.

Dietician Joan Wides writes:

Despite the French love of rich foods high in saturated fat, such as cream, croissants, and foie gras, all of which Simon has embraced, the French have a lower rate of obesity, heart disease, and cancer in women and greater longevity than the British.

While the protective effects of red wine and olive oil have been put forward to explain the “French Paradox”, it is more likely to be attributable to French eating habits. The majority of French meals are prepared at home and eaten at the family table.

The British, in comparison, are increasingly buying ready meals and fast foods to eat in front of the TV.

The French focus on good basic ingredients and, compared to the British, they eat less processed food and do not snack, thereby reducing their salt and fat consumption.

The French also consume more fruit and vegetables. If Simon carries on with his avocado he may find the “French Paradox” working for him too.

Simon Kuper is the author of the award-winning Football Against the Enemy (Orion)

Last updated: 4:32pm, September 23 2009